The forecast was bad, not light wind; no wind. The start was difficult and a car carrier arrived at the wrong time so we had to motor back away from the start line and then return resulting in us drifting across the line 10 minutes or more after the gun. A slow sail down the Solent on a building tide and then out through the Needles channel and a view of the mis-named American Yacht ‘Lucky’ fast aground on the shingles bank on a falling tide.
It was clear that we wouldn’t get round Portland Bill on the tide and as the afternoon’s sea breeze died we sailed slowly south and west in mid channel on a flat starlit sea. Progress was painfully slow through the first night and into Monday. The day passed slowly as we battled to keep going the right way. Then a bit of breeze gave us a spinnaker run and a chance to see the new Reacher in action. The new kite worked but I had decided to carry the old AP one as well which meant leaving the heavy weather spinnaker behind as our handicap certificate only allows 4 to be carried on board.
Now the first bit of entertainment, a missed clip on a halyard and a pull sent the spinnaker halyard to the top of the mast. This meant someone had to go up and a ‘surge of volunteers’ meant it was me. We used the topping lift which is 8mm Dyneema and our reserve main halyard. Perfectly strong enough, but it meant going up aft of the spreaders, when the halyard to be retrieved was forward of them.
An unexpected wave sent me between the mast and the spreaders so, having unwrapped the halyard from the top of the forestay I came down the forestay behind the spinnaker. This led to the need to have to pass a line through the triangle between the second spreader and the mast. Rigger suggested throwing a line and this became an interesting diversion. With the end of the wooden spoon we made a hole through an apple then threaded it on a line and taped it up. We now had an aerodynamic weighted line that wouldn’t damage the deck. After quite a few attempts it worked but during the recovery of the topping lift the rope tied to the apple line was not heavy enough to fall down over the spreader, so a bag with a Melon in was attached, hoisted and deftly swung through the triangle then lowered to the deck, unfortunately the line attached to it got jammed so I had to go up again on the halyard I had recovered whilst we plodded on under spinnaker in light winds.
Some team members had booked flights on Saturday to go to the Edinburgh Fringe and they were getting worried about missing them. I re-assured them they would be on the fringe as they would be in Plymouth.
We plodded on past Plymouth and the wind forecast suggested there would be a bit more wind than had previously been predicted, we saw a whale, the dolphins arrived, we trimmed the sails and headed laboriously on towards the Scillies.
We were north of the Scillies when the wind picked up and our speed increased, we calculated the best course to keep a bit of west in hand for when the wind veered, which was due as we reached the traffic separation scheme near the Fastnet rock. 305 degrees was the desired course but I called for 300 and checked with the . . . → Read More: Fastnet Report + I am away until September but e-mails will get through
The Fastnet starts on Sunday 16th at 1220 and you can follow our progress via the satellite tracker http://www.rolexfastnetrace.com/ With 390 entrants it is the largest Offshore race in the World. The current forecast is for light winds, which doesn’t suit us, but the team is ready and with a bit more breeze we will again attempt to finish in the top half.
The 7 day RYA course saw all pass and have a good time. The Weymouth race saw us take second place. The run back from Weymouth on Sunday gave the team the opportunity to sail in a gale. The wind was up to 41 knots and coming from the south so we took advantage of the barrier formed by the Shingles and came in to the Solent via North head.
A bit of sunshine and the courses have filled. The sea is at its warmest around 21st September and we have put on a Tuesday evening to Sunday afternoon course from 15th to 20th at just £500 which still includes Oilies, all food, fees, fuel, Certificates etc. None of the small print of some schools that adds £100 or more to the cost of the course.
After the race to St Malo last weekend we now lie 6th out of 104 in Class 4 of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
Next race with spaces is 4th September.
Next course with spaces is Tuesday evening 4th August to Sunday afternoon 9th and will allow us to see some of Cowes week.
A few hot days has seen the number of bookings increase. This is good for RYA courses where we sometimes struggle as our prices are inclusive whereas many others have extras such as food, marina fees, fuel and log books which means their price looks lower. Most of the races are full and we already have provisional bookings for the Round Ireland race in June 2016.
The 5 day RYA course starting 4th August will allow us to see some of the racing during Cowes week. We have a father and teenage son booked on at present.
The 8 day cruise back from Plymouth has had a drop out and we have a special of £395 for the next booking. Allow for a few meals out or contributions to special meals on board on this trip as we will visit some lovely little ports.
The sea is at its warmest about the 21st September and after August things get quieter so September and October are great months for sailing.
A few programme changes so the odd special offer.
1) Extra race to Cherbourg starting 4th September–Friday join at 1600 latest
2) Cruise from 23rd to 31st (BH Mon) August
We finished 18th out of 41 in our class for the Eddystone race to secure our Fastnet qualifying miles. The forecast was for very light and variable winds but we got a bit more than that and only struggled to keep going for a couple of hours. We are full for the race to Cherbourg starting 5th June but have places on all other races except the Fastnet due to work, weddings etc. We have a late change to the cruising programme with a long weekend on 11th June at just £125. We plan to take in a good meal at St Vaast and the Saturday morning market.
We have had to make a couple of programme changes which means we have a long weekend trip to St Vaast from Thursday evening 11th June until Sunday afternoon the 14th June.
St Vaast is a super little port with several good restaurants a great Saturday market and a most unusual ‘Supermarket’ that is known across France.
Because it is a late addition cost is only £125.